Last weekend, women’s tennis finished their last individual tournament of the 2015 season. The team lost a few players over the offseason to graduation and other means. Six players are currently assigned on the roster with two more freshmen incoming before the spring. Southern will be heading into the team season with three returning players and the rest being complete new ones.
“We’re definitely a young team,” said Head Coach Michele Stanford. “We had three new girls come in this semester and then before season begins next January, we’re going to have two more that are going to be joining the team as well.”
“We’ve been very young, but it’s been a great semester so far. Result-wise, we’re not quite where we want to be, but they’ve all been working hard every practice. Each tournament, you can see some improvements as well. We’ve feeling good moving mid-spring.”
The Eagles have collected wins here and there throughout the fall season. Their biggest success was found at the Georgia Southern Invitational on the weekend of Oct. 2. Four out of six of the players earned a win. Senior Mary Phillips Smith and senior Francisca Norregaard were among two of them to win.
The team met some tough competition at the ITA Regionals and Kitty Harrison Invitational a few weeks back, but they picked up on a lot and know the type of potential they have.
“We have two seniors on the team: both Fran and Mary-Phillips have done a great job being leaders so far,” said Stanford.
“Right now, we’ve been trying to focus on our confidence and getting these extra matches under our belt. With two new kids coming in the spring, every time you add something new to the team, team chemistry and everything will change. It’s hard to say what kind of team we’re going to look like heading into January.”
“With where things have been going so far, I’ve been happy and I’m hoping we can keep that momentum going forward.”
Tennis teams with smaller rosters are composed a bit differently. In spring, all matches will be team competitions, best of four. There is one doubles competition between the two teams to earn one team point and then six singles matches to decide the other six team points.
Southern will have eight players on their roster, meaning a lot of players will be seeing playing time this year. Since four of those players will be freshmen, the team should be in for some interesting developments this year.
Last year, the Eagles had a freshman who went undefeated in singles play. There is no telling how this year will go or if the Eagles will find that same type of success this season.
“From my experience right now, this has been one of the closest teams that we’ve had at least for the last three years that I’ve been here,” said Stanford.
“They’ve very, very tight-knit. They’re very goal-oriented. Every time they step on the court, they’re cheering each other on; they’re building each other up. I think that’s going to carry them a really long way heading into the season. It’s definitely one of the most determined teams that we’ve had.”
Women’s tennis will take to the courts on Jan. 23 against South Carolina State. The match will be the season opener for the spring and be featured at home at the Wallis Tennis Center next to Hanner.